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Hot Bug! (Video)

Oh, I like this! A customized and chopped vintage Volkswagen with a glorious hotrod engine! Looks like a ’56 to me. The gearshift almost poking through the sunroof has a skull knob, too (hard to see). My brother @RudeBoyRobbo shot this iPhone video on the street in downtown Austin back in April. He drives a pedicab, and if you’re ever in Austin, tweet him up for a ride.

All of which reminds me that I don’t see nearly enough of my siblings. This will not do. Another reason for my wife and I to find a better home, so people can visit once in a while. And with our ducks in a row, we could get away ourselves. I’m done with working so hard to be a hermit. That’s what years of worrying you’re no good will get you: not a damn thing, really…

So much bullshit gone under the bridge. Thank you, older generation, now all dead. Why were you scared of brilliance? What was wrong with art? Where did you hide your joy? Why didn’t you even trust yourselves?

One of the things I used to do when I was a teenager in Abilene, TX to escape the tension at home was buy a copy of Hot Rod magazine each month and lose myself inside the pages. No one has any idea how sacred and beautiful that was for me. To this day, the sight of a fine custom car or motorcycle fills my heart with love for the machine, love for whoever built it, love for my own self—it all goes ’round and ’round and gets me all excited and sometimes makes me cry. This must be one reason I appreciate Chicano car culture so much. Self-affirmation, pride, family, and all. Check out Art Meza’s work (@Chicano_Soul) on Etsy to dig just what I’m talking about. Dude knows from car love, chilluns. Mucho respecto.

Those days are also how I know what “chopped” means when referring to a car. Do you? I almost added “channeled,” but you can’t do that with an old VW, because it has no frame rails, har. This knowledge pleases me. No doubt it still will when I’m dead.

  • Joe August 17, 2013, 12:19 PM

    “Chopped, channeled.” Do you also remember “raked?”

    I had three VW bugs, 68, 72 and 73. The 73 was a Super Beetle with a sunroof and eight track stereo. $2,800 brand new. The only one I bought new. Before that I drove Corvettes. Big difference.

    • JHF August 17, 2013, 12:31 PM

      “Raked” is familiar, but I’m drawing a blank—unless that’s when you tilt the windshield back? Corvettes, eh? I shoulda hung out with you!

      My first VW was a ’58 I inherited from the old man. My second was a ’67, cost $1,736. :-) Payments were $36/mo. I was a junior college instructor making $600/mo. Rent was $75 (high!). Doctor visit cost five bucks. Money piled up in my checking account unspent. We had a very different country then.

      • Joe August 17, 2013, 4:09 PM

        “Raked” is low in front and lifted in back. Mostly the Hispanic dudes did that around here.
        Yeah, my first Corvette was a slightly used 63 I got when I was 16. My dad bought that one for around $3,600 if I’m not mistaken. The 67 convertible I bought new for $5,300.

        • JHF August 17, 2013, 5:07 PM

          Low in front, lifted in back. That was what I was thinking, just expressed it poorly. My actual first car was a ’57 BMW Isetta 300 with the parts for two engines in a wooden box. :-)

  • christian ienni August 17, 2013, 1:33 PM

    never had the degree of tension or repression you had to deal with, but i can relate – but for me it was Keyboard magazine. different kind of technology, but the same kind of love! now decades later i have 2 rooms full of synthesizers (some *very* customized) and a whole lot of arcane knowledge very few people would care about (and one of these years i should really start *using* that gear a lot more than i do currently! ;-) ).
    and even though it’s not my primary area of expertise i can certainly appreciate a beautiful piece of technology like that customized bug – goddamn that is a thing of great beauty! and as an experimental electronic musician i also love the SOUND it makes! bet it vibrated your brother’s guttiwutts (as Alex in “Clockwork Orange” would say).

    • JHF August 17, 2013, 4:01 PM

      Well, to be fair, I’m sure my family was considered “normal.” I was also a very sensitive kid, which meant that suffering was in the mix due to attitudes prevailing at the time. It’s only now that I see how unreal it all became.

      Keyboard magazine, eh? Yes, that would explain a few things.

      • christian ienni August 17, 2013, 4:36 PM

        the perspective of time & age – when you’re that young you just don’t know any better, you think “this is just the way things are; this is normal.” it’s only decades later you realize how screwed up the situation was, and wonder how you even managed to survive it reasonably sane & intact.

        and the funny thing about Keyboard now is when i go back and reread some of those issues from 30 years ago it all seems so silly and pretentious! at the time i was just so grateful to have access to the information, but now all i see is the self-important journalistic elitism and myopic perspective of the era. last month i got an old synth (a korg dw8000, circa 1985) off ebay for a couple hundred bucks – it’s an early digital-analog hybrid, and produces some wonderful strange trippy sounds that fit perfectly into my work. just for fun i went and looked up the original Keyboard review… and it complained about how it was only an ok synth because it wasn’t that great at producing “normal” sounds! since of course that’s the only reason you’d buy a synth back then – to make “normal” sounds on the cheap (and put real horn sections out of work).

        “Time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’… into the future…”

        :-)

    • Joe August 18, 2013, 8:59 AM

      Working as a photojournalist 30 years I did a story for Keyboard Magazine in about 1982 or 83.

  • Rita August 17, 2013, 7:10 PM

    My deep love goes for pick-ups, but I had a few classic bugs also. In ’73 I bought a ’58 Chevy with the curved corner windows for $200, and sold it for the same two years later. It had a rod knock the whole time. I’ve been eyeing Toyotas lately.

    • JHF August 17, 2013, 8:06 PM

      I need something myself. A nice used off-road Tacoma would be fine. Only thing is, I want to be able to sleep in the back. I’m about 5′ 11″ if you hang me up and stretch me. The longest bed in those is 6 feet, right?

      My ’87 F-150 is going to go until it breaks, which could be any minute. It can’t take me on the road any more, really, except out to where I hike. This is just silly, living out here without a 4WD. I gotta get serious!

  • Rita August 18, 2013, 7:59 AM

    I am amazed that it is so difficult to find what I need. I have been looking at Old Fords. I sleep sitting up in my Honda Civic. Crazy, especially at my age.

    I may have to get a cargo van. There are a few, quite rare, with 4×4. Reliability and gas mileage are top of the list, but I do think about a VW camper van.

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